Looking at Abnormality 20:15
Clifford Beers: received harsh treatment in early 20th century in mental hospitals. Suffered from
mood swings. He eventually recovered. He started the “Mental Hygiene Movement” for the
reform of mental health treatment.
Psychopathology: people who suffer mental, emotional, and often physical pain as a result of
some form of psychological or mental disorder.
Cultural Relativism: there are no universal standards or rules for labeling a behaviour as
abnormal. Instead, behaviours can only be abnormal relative to cultural norms.
1) Cultural Relativism: the norms of a society must be used to determine the normality or
abnormality of a behaviour.
2) Unusualness: unusual or rare behaviours should be labeled abnormal.
3) Discomfort: only behaviour or emotions that an individual finds distressing should be labeled
4) Mental Illness: only behaviours resulting from mental illness are abnormal.
5) Maladaptiveness: distress, dysfunction, deviance.
Historical Perspectives on Abnormality
Biological Theories: similar to physical diseases, caused by the breakdown of systems in the
body. Appropriate cure was the restoration of the body to good health.
Supernatural Theories: a result of divine intervention, curses, demonic possession, and
personal sin. Appropriate treatments were religious rituals, exorcisms, confessions, and
Psychological Theories: a result of traumas. Rest, relaxation, a change of environment, and
certain herbal medicines were appropriate treatments.
Evil Spirits of the Stone Age
Probably rooted in supernatural theories.
Typical treatment was exorcism.
One treatment may have been to drill holes in the skulls of people displaying abnormal behaviour
to allow the spirits to depart. The operation is called trephination.
Ancient China: Balancing yin and yang (religious theories)